Thursday, May 15, 2008

Ack! The Student Groups Are Coming!


Sometimes we wish we could cover things up to protect them from the student groups.

A few weeks back, I gave a tour to 50 some kids from a North Carolina high school. Because of the unruliness of school groups during our "shake down cruise" in 2007, the Marines at the desk have a schpeal they give to the groups. Its one of those "put the fear of God in you" kind of schpeals. I suppose it sets the stage for what you could expect from a Drill Instructor. Well, one of the parents thought it was kind of funny.

The Marine didn't think it was funny.

"Did I say something funny, ma'am?"

Oh, geez. Everyone shut up and paid attention.

I then get to be the good cop after that.

It has amazed us by what kids think is o.k. to do at a museum. It has amazed us more that parents have actually gotten upset with docents for telling them their kids are not suppose to climb on the tanks or into the displays. Now, I know the galleries are immersive - - but come on - - you don't scale the rocks on Tokton pass.

Well, the museum kicked out its first student group this weekend. 300 sixth graders from a local middle school ran amuck in the museum. They were climbing on the tanks - - and can you believe it -- - were caught 'riding' the war dog in the Vietnam gallery. The director of education had the school round their kids up and had them leave. Later in the day, the resource officer from the school returned to the museum. Our docent manager said he learned a 'resource officer' is actually a police officer assigned to the schools. The guy wanted to know if the museum wanted to press charges.

Well the museum declined pressing charges but told them the school was not welcome in the museum.

The school principal read the kids the riot act and called the museum director and apologized profusely. The entire class of 300 will be made to formally apologize to the museum staff.

I almost wish they could do some type of community service.

The sad thing, there are probably some kids who were really interested in the museum and weren't causing a problem and the rabble rousers ruined it for everyone. Oh, and you know, some parent will 'feel' their child doesn't need to apologize - - I mean what harm could a 6th grader do to a tank? Which of course isn't the point - - the lack of respect these kids had toward other guests and the artifacts is the real issue.

By the way, the plastic covered artifacts were not due to a student visit. They were cleaning the windows in Leatherneck Gallery and didn't want the cleaning solution to drop down on the displays. From my time in restoration, covering these things in plastic is an ordeal - - especially the Jenny (bi-plane in the back ground that is hanging from the ceiling.) You don't realize just how big these things are until you climb up on top of them. I was once left standing up in a toe hold on the HO3S Dragonfly because we ran out of staples for the plastic. The most dangerous part is climbing up and down on these things when you aren't familiar with them, so I opted to stay put until they returned with more staples. The First Sgt. climbed up on the opposite side to help me hold on.

"Now, I just want you to know, if you fall, I'm going to grab whatever I can of you, including your hair, " he said to me. (BTW, I had long hair then and always wore a pony tail)

"First Sgt, if I fall, I'm going to grab onto anything and everything as I go down and I don't care if I break stuff," was my reply. BTW, I didn't mean any disrespect to the aritifact, my life and limb is more important than breaking something off the machine. These artifacts are dangerous, which is why people shouldn't be climbing on them.

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